The mergers and acquisitions round up
It’s been another busy week for the startup world, with a number of big acquisitions taking place. Get up to speed with our regular Friday round up:
Japanese company SoftBank has acquired 95 per cent of French robotics startup Aldebaran, which it had previously invested 100 million euros into in 2012. Founded in 2005, Aldebaran is the developer of the Nao, Romeo, and Pepper robots, with Pepper – the first robot to be able to read human emotions – having been specially developed for SoftBank. The company claims the robots are currently being used in over 70 countries around the world.
The acquisition sees Bruno Maisonnier, CEO of Aldebaran, sell his stake in the company and give up his title to become advisor to Masayoshi Son, president of SoftBank, which will become SoftBank Robotics at the beginning of March. Fumihide Tomizawa will become Aldabaran CEO.
Hi-Media, a European online media group, has acquired three of French telecommunications company Orange’s digital advertising networks – in Miami, Mexico, and Spain. In a statement, Hi-Media’s founder and CEO Cyril Zimmerman said that the acquisition of Orange’s networks – which have sales of around 10 million euros – will allow the company to strengthen its position in the Spanish market and take new positions in Latin American markets. The company will also look to accelerate the deployment of its mobile, video, and RTB products in the region.
“[We] will benefit from an ideal time to market by taking advantage of strong growth of digital marketing in Hispanic America,” Zimmerman said. Hi-Media expects to finalise the transaction in the first quarter of 2015.
Google has announced the acquisition of ‘technology and intellectual property’ from Softcard, an online payments company, to improve its Google Wallet service. The move has been seen as an effort to compete with Apple’s Apple Pay service, as Google Wallet will soon come installed on new Android handsets in the US.
AirPr, which launched in 2012 with the aim of connecting startups with the right PR company, has sold its PR marketplace to The CHR Group, a marketing agency. AirPr CEO Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer told TechCrunch that The CHR Group was just one of several companies that made an offer for AirPr’s product. He said that CHR will continue to operate and grow the product. AirPr also has an analytics platform, which it will be focusing on from now on, with Fouladgar-Mercer saying that AirPr found the analytics side more promising for the business.
Toro, a startup which helps developers promote their tools on Facebook, has been acquired by Google. In a statement, Toro said that “with greater resources and distribution now available at our disposal, we’re excited to join Google and continue our mission of making the lives of app developers easier.” The team will continue to work together on products from within Google, signalling a shift in attention from Facebook. The statement advised users that campaign creation has been suspended for the time being, and recommended “working with an alternative Facebook PMD for new campaigns going forward.”
Twilio, a cloud communications company, has acquired Authy, a startup providing a two-factor authentication security system to over 6000 sites. Authy’s team will be integrated into Twilio’s team. In a statement, Twilio said “this is a rare match and a fantastic opportunity to make two sympatico visions one.”
Crowd Mobile, a global crowdsourced micro-job business, has raised $2 million in its latest funding round and acquired UK text and answer service Any Questions Answered (AQA Mobile) for $165,000. The acquisition of AQA, which was established in 2004 and named the best text and answer service in the UK by the BBC’s Watchdog in 2009, signals Crowd Mobile’s intent on growing in the UK and Irish markets. It is already operating across continental Europe.
Just days after Indian company Infosys acquired Panaya for $200 million, CEO Vishal Sikka told the India Times that the company is considering a dozen startups for buyout potential. The Times reports that Sikka will be able to leverage Infosys’ $500 million startup fund and $5 billion of cash to keep acquiring.